Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 75.djvu/53

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49
A REVOLUTION IN DENTISTRY

A REVOLUTION IN DENTISTRY
By RICHARD COLE NEWTON, M.D.

HAVE the dentists waked up? Some of them have. A new order of the "Knights of the Forceps" has been formed, called the "Orthodontists" (tooth straighteners). At last accounts there were sixty of them in America, as compared to 50,000 simple dentists. And what does it all mean? If I can compress a great deal of information into a limited space I can, perhaps, explain it and I think that it may be possible to make it clear why the movement is so important. Dr. Osier has said that the question of preserving the teeth is more important than the liquor question. When one reflects that a great deal of intemperance is caused by dyspepsia, with its mental and physical deterioration, and that the underlying cause of much of the generally prevalent dyspepsia is the decayed and defective teeth, which preclude complete mastication of the food (even if anybody in America had the time to eat properly), the solid truth of Dr. Osier's remark begins to dawn upon us.

Now the dentists, like the doctors, have begun to realize that their true mission is not "a general repairing business," but a systematic and well-considered effort to prevent and forestall the wholesale decay and loss of human teeth. Perhaps some idea of the very general use of false teeth may be gathered from the statement that 20,000,000 of them are exported from America to England every year. When we consider that probably not more than half of the inhabitants of that country indulge in the luxury of false teeth, no matter how many "grinders" they may have lost, these figures would seem to indicate that nearly every one in England suffers from defective or missing teeth. Observations so far as they have been carried in the United States show the same deplorable state of affairs.

A great many more or less ingenious explanations have been advanced from time to time, to account for this, as well as for the fact that so few Americans have regularly disposed teeth and well-shaped jaws. Our English friends have made much sport of our "hatchet faces," "lantern jaws" and the nasal tones of our voices. We are told that such an admixture of races, as is gradually taking place in our country, is the cause of our poor teeth. Nobody seems to know why it should be so. In fact, such a result is directly opposite to nature's beneficent course in admixtures of different races and species, where